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City In The White Mirror

By Katerina Zalamova

· smart cities,citiebuildingfutures

It’s time to reset, re-create and collaborate on a new paradigm where Compassion and Kindness are the prevailing norms, one where technology is a tool for making humans more humane and creating an Abundant world for the majority. - Anuraj Gambhir

Anuraj Gambhir suggested a new way of understanding the impact of technological applications called White Mirror inspired on the Black Mirror Netflix series. He wondered how much of knowledge we would extract if we try to imagine a positive vision of the future looking to find what is the opposite to the negative impact shown by the Netflix series. For example, he suggested to confront the following concepts:

  • -scarcity to +abundance,
  • -hoarding (me) to +sharing/caring (we),
  • -darkness to +light,
  • -fear/hatred to +love,
  • -isolated to +connected,
  • -watcher to +participant

In this paper, we will applied some of his ideas on a city level giving our conceptual vision on some of his questions.

What does a bright future look like?

In CREA IDEA LAB vision about city development, a bright future of a city is time when citizens can live balanced life experiencing and gaining conscious about themselves and their personal dreams about their lives.

The City, itself, is a platform where smooth interconnection and interoperability allow the basic needs of the citizens to be resolved. Here, we understand as basic needs the following:

  • provision of connectivity and communication between citizens, citizens and the city structures: physical, administrative and social;
  • provision of energy, water, food and air.
  • provision of experimental opportunities as professional, educational and cultural infrastructures. 

The bright future of our City is build on the humble enabling of life experiences rather than well defined structures of life-styles. The City becomes the provider of a safe space for personal discovery with a multi-layered structure of experiential opportunities. We envision a variety of business models behind this purpose which will assure a dynamic local economy which will enforce the personal adventures of the citizens. "Making money" will evolve from assuring the provision of basic needs to a path for personal discovery, validation and growth.

Is there a need for a positive only depiction or do you think a balance of Yin and Yang forces is a better representation?

In our Cities Building Futures methodology, we advocated for a balance of Yin/Yang (Negative/Positive) impact analysis. It is very important to draw a most detailed impact vision about each city component and its interrelation with the other parts. If the components are well understand, their interoperability is bringing higher result than their sum, both being this positive or negative. Moreover, some individual negative impact points can be inputs for other processes and systems which brings value that balance or convert them to positive ones. Having a detailed impact map of the city infrastructures and the interrelationships between them and the citizens, brings awareness and new evolved knowledge about the city and its future. Additionally, this map can be used as a maintenance guide for further improvement of the city vision and processes. It is an important tool when external to the city challenges should be addressed (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic).

What would it take to create this vision of the future?

CREA IDEA LAB offers a consultancy service's package for the creation of a city vision through our Cities Building Futures methodology. Assuming there are two levels of vision's co-creation: first, just with the municipality team and second, with the citizens, the minimum needed time is between 6 months and one year.

How do we rapidly solve humanity’s problems to improve life for all?

Although, it can seem that public administration is slow in solving humanity's problems, cities have been demonstrated to be able to accelerate this process. In CREA IDEA LAB, we believe that the fastest way to show materialized results in tackling the actual humanity's problems (UN Agenda 2030) is through actions on a city level and through city's networks. We have been speaking about city's collaboration in our previous post where we showed how today cities can mobilize much more than policy making processes for change creation. Looking on the learning of the last decade to tackle climate change as a humanity's challenge, we have observed than many cities have been successful to transition to new green future. We have found out that the key for their success is their local culture and historic heritage, in other words, their social values than policy making instruments.

How do we bring humanity even closer together?

Humanity and cities become a topic thanks to the technological development in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Today, we can decide to build cities without humans. It can make perfect sense. Then, Humanity gets a new dimension and bringing humanity closer together does not mean living together. Furthermore, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of the social distancing, the term takes a totally new perspective. In our opinion, thanks to the implementation of global connectivity through Internet and international airlines networks, the world becomes a village. But, our society lost culture and moral values. In our opinion, we need to recover the Ancient Greek Forum, where people have public debate about their social organizational structures and moral codes which will regulate their relationships.

We believe, cities can play a crucial leadership in the recognition of the individual uniqueness and building a value-economic system on top of it. Understanding this uniqueness through the impact map of the city can be one possible way to enhance positive humanity and condition negative human and social behaviours.

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